What its like interning at EnAble India

Picture of Ranjith– Rajath Francis

You never know what to expect when you go someplace for an internship. Thoughts lurk around your mind wondering if it’s going to be a fine, peaceful and jovial place to work or an “I want to get out of here as soon as possible” kind of place. Well, Enable India proved itself to be the first one for me. Fun, creative and a challenging place to work. With out-of-the-box thinking people who can make your life and workplace fun to be with, what else can one expect? Its one thing to be completely working under one person, but it’s quite another to work under three to four people. At Enable India, there isn’t a specified job description. Free and got some work which has to be done? Well, it’s all yours. Whether its Shruthi’s data entry or writing weekly reports for Vishnu or solving aptitude based questions for Julian, it’s all your cup of tea. That’s right, if someone asks you what you do at Enable India, you know what to say.

Work and workplace, both are two ends of the same spectrum. Now, when one says that he or she is working for an organization which empowers the disabled, a typical image flashes in our mind, one of people pushing wheelchairs or conducting seminars to boost a physically challenged person’s morale or something on similar lines. But, step inside this place and in a matter of hours you realize the difference. Dealing with employing and training people with disability, EI only pushes these people, giving them the confidence that they are very well capable of doings things on their own. Coming to people with disabilities, a common man’s thought would be of someone who works just to get his daily butter and bread. But, go through the very well structured impressive and professional resumes of these guys, and you might just want to swap your lives with them. Now, sitting in the main office for days together could get a bit monotonous, so EI gave me an opportunity to break that. As a volunteer to help in one of the most prominent software companies, EMC2, for a program organized along with Enable India, it was just a one of kind experience. If you intern at an organization like Enable India and tell people that you didn’t spend time with disabled people, well, that’s going to be a shame. So, while volunteering at EMC2 for the “Diversity and Inclusion” event I got the opportunity to help and interact with about twelve candidates who suffered from profound disability. Interacting with these people was fun in itself. Talented, humorous and fun people they were. Even if you choose to remain quiet thinking that you might be disturb them, they’ll bring up a topic and pull you into a lengthy conversation. The candidates were not the only ones worthy of praise at the event. Dedicating their life and savings to see a successful future for their children, the parents were the main guiding force and strength for people with disability. All together, the “Diversity and Inclusion” event at EMC2 was a memorable one. Things just don’t end there. ‘Asvas’, a dedicated place only for the training of candidates with disability. It was here that I was sent along with two other friends of mine to gain insight on the field of tactile drawings. Tactile drawings, a method used specifically for visually impaired people. Using different textures so that people who are visually impaired can feel and make out the difference, the methodology behind this was explained. But as the popular adage goes, “practice makes a man perfect”, and so we were also given the chance to work with the volunteers from Thomson Reuters in designing tactile boards.

If I begin to describe Enable India and tell you how good this place is, then I’m surely going to run out of words. My knowledge on words which describe something as awesome, magical, mesmerizing, brilliant, amazing, splendid and stunning are just limited to the words you just read. Enable India is all that and more. Getting an opportunity to work for such an organization is something which is going to remain as one of the best things in life for me. Each person here, and all of them that I met while I worked here, taught me how to go about and see life in a different perspective. If I feel low and skeptical of my future, all I have to do is think about those amazing resumes which I dealt with to brighten me up and get me all optimistic. They teach you that nothing is far away from your reach and everything is well within your grasp. If they can achieve great things in life despite all their shortcomings, then anyone can. I’m not sure who says this, all I know is that it’s from the movie ‘Turbo’, but this quote is truly an inspiration, and it goes like this: “No dream is too big, and no dreamer too small”.

(The views and opinion expressed in this article are those of the author & not necessarily those of EnAble India)

Love & belief can conquer acid – Haseena’s story

 

Happy International Women’s Day! We at EnAble India wish to celebrate the spirit of an independent Indian woman with the story of Haseena, a woman with amazing courage, confidence and compassion.

At the age of 21, Haseena became a victim of an acid attack and this attack caused her to lose her vision completely. For 10 years, she had to undergo 35 surgeries to reconstruct her face and body and she underwent immense counselling to help her get over the trauma. She was in and out of hospitals and never stepped out of her home to go anywhere else. She was not in touch with the outside world.

At Enable India, Haseena found hope. Her initial days were a trying time for both the trainers and herself. Coming out of her home was a culture shock. Because of the amount of time spent in the hospitals, she never got the opportunity to meet and mingle with people. Her world was black and white. She expected perfect behaviour from everyone she met, with no room for disappointment. We were worried about her job since every job requires interaction and team work. We wanted her to have a full life with friends and family. We believed in her potential. With the love and support of the Enable India trainers, she came out of her shell and learnt to mingle with others and made several friends. One of her first outings was to a park and she even joined the excursion to Nandi Hills with her family and friends. With EnAble India’s encouragement, she learnt to enjoy life and realised even “Haseena can smile”. What changed her life was voluntary work where she had to collect clothes for flood victims where she had to reach out to other people. Volunteering helped her to reconnect with her relatives and friends, with whom she hadn’t spoken to for a long time. The trainers recall when she had to do her presentation in front of a crowd regarding her volunteer work. It was an emotional moment because we had never seen her speak in front of an audience.

The Haseena of today, has become fully confident and independent. In her words, she is not a victim.

She is now working as a stenographer in a government department. She applied for a government job and using assistive technology, she proved to the officials that she could be a productive resource to the government sector.

After losing her vision, Haseena had been scared to walk alone. Her mother had to take her everywhere. During the initial training days, she used to arrive by auto because she was afraid to travel by public transport. With the mobility training, she is now independent and walks to her office all by herself.

Haseena’s tremendous courage had touched the lives of a lot of people. She has earned the respect of her community. She counsels many people who are in depression and has helped many others in need. She has even successfully counselled people with suicidal tendencies. She is actively working towards empowerment of acid attack victims. To prove that she too can lead the same life as others, she does her daily activities independently. She cooks, hangs out with friends, supports her family, fights for justice, and is the role model of a truly independent woman with dignity.

See the article about Haseena in the Hindu: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/with-sheer-grit-haseena-moves-on/article5761533.ece

Volunteer Profile – Katie Mackay

Katie in the main office
Katie in the main office

Katie travelled to India for the first time in mid-September 2013 to volunteer with EnAble India for 5 months. She found EnAble India through an agency called 2Way Development, a UK based social enterprise that organises personalised volunteer placements around the world in the field of international development.

After reviewing several organisations in and around Asia, she chose EnAble India as the work sounded as though it would build upon the experience she had already gained from working with adults and young people with disability in the UK.

She feels that she adapted easily to her life in Bangalore though found crossing roads difficult at first – she thought that she had mastered this a long time back in UK and should probably have insisted upon some EnAble India mobility training in her first week!! Katie felt that everyone was so welcoming and friendly at EnAble India. “Everyone took the time to talk to me and I felt like I quickly became one of the Enable India family.”

The work has been multi-faceted: interviewing candidates and writing case studies; making retention visits to candidates in different companies and speaking to them and their managers to find out how things are going; content writing for Visually Impaired; customer service trainer for Visually Impaired; helping hand at Mysore job fair.

Katie feels she has learnt many things here at EnAble India, such as:

  • How to ask the right questions and get the most out of people during case study interviews and retention meetings.
  • Communicating with corporate people.
  • Learning how to communicate with hearing impaired (sign language)
  • Learning about skills with visually impaired
  • Gaining understanding of what its like to be a disabled person in India – the challenges etc.

Katie has felt inspired by the passion and commitment of the disabled job-seekers/ job holders that she has met at EnAble India. She has found EnAble India to be a very hardworking NGO that provides a great service to people with disabilities and people without disabilities who are enabled to have a better understanding of inclusion. Her fondest memories will be of interacting with candidates at companies, seeing them open up and react in such a positive way and generally being a part of the EnAble India team! In terms of challenges she may have encountered at EnAble India, she felt she sometimes experienced difficulties getting hold of information quickly, getting in touch with people from companies and getting appointments organised and she sometimes felt too many excel sheets has the potential to cause confusion.

She feels her life in Bangalore has been amazing and she has made friends that she hopes to keep for years to come. Katie is a musician and so had been involved in many musical projects and performed at many venues around Bangalore, becoming Bangalore’s most famous English, blonde haired trumpet player! On this she advised, “traveling around India with a trumpet is an interesting way of meeting people! I would recommend it to anyone!”

(Update: Katie has been featured in the Deccan Herald:  http://www.deccanherald.com/content/389338/i-absolutely-love-food-here.html)